Bruised and entangled in a net, the body of missing Carli Bay fisherman Parasram Boodoo was fished out of the Gulf of Paria yesterday afternoon, two days after he and another fisherman went missing in what police believe to be another pirate attack.
Last night, two people were in police custody after officers retrieved the stolen boat and engine at Granville, Cedros.
The death came on the anniversary of the incident in which five Orange Valley fishermen were killed by pirates on July 22, 2019, after being robbed of their boats and engines. The six stolen engines were found floating on a pirogue at Sea Lots and two people were charged and given bail.
At dawn yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, officers from the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Patrol and Riverine Unit and several boatloads of fishermen went in search of the missing fishermen.
As news spread that Boodoo’s body was found, his mother Mary Sooknanan broke down in tears.
“Oh God, what they do my son,” she cried, holding her stomach as she was led away into a car.
Boodoo’s brother, Satesh, said Parasram only got into fishing after he lost his job because of the pandemic. When money was hard to come by, Boodoo decided to go out to sea with his friend, captain Navindra Garib.
“He wasn’t working. He went out for a few days and make a hustle with them and he liked it. This is the outcome,” Satesh said.
He added, “I can’t say what happened. I believe it was a pirate attack, someone went to get them for an engine or boat. I don’t know. We just praying for the best.”
Another brother, Dale Boodoo, said, “They went out with a 75-horsepower engine and that could not take them far. He has a five-year-old child and he was just trying to provide for his family. Because of the state of the economy, he went to do fishing but he was a straightener and painter by profession.”
Boat owner Anil Seelochan said they usually fished close to the bay.
“They did not go far. They would fish during the day. On Monday, they had half a pan of fuel left so they went right out there in shallow waters in an area known as Pan Buoy around 4 pm to fish for a few hours. They were supposed to come back about 1 in the morning. I would usually meet them at 6 am to go to the market to sell the fish,” Seelochan said.
On Tuesday morning when Garib and Boodoo failed to show, up, Seelochan made a report to the police. He said they searched all of Tuesday and again yesterday.
Garib’s brother Avinash said he too was praying that somehow his brother would still be alive. He also said he suspected that pirates were behind the attack.
Meanwhile, Carli Bay Fishing Association president Imitiaz Khan said fishermen were facing too many attacks on the high seas.
“Five weeks ago, a fisherman named Mr Volman was thrown overboard, engine missing, boat missing and Mr Volman was found dead. Now we have these two guys. I don’t have words to explain what I am feeling now. It’s like no one cares,” Khan said.
He added, “Expensive surveillance equipment came into the country, yet there are insufficient patrols in the Gulf to protect fishermen.”
Khan said many people had turned to farming and fishing to earn a livelihood because of the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“We have 50,000 people involved in fishing in T&T, yet little is being done to help fishermen,” Khan said.
He noted that the TTPS Coastal Patrol and Riverine Unit has been doing patrols but this too was insufficient, as it had not served to decrease the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf.
He added, “In 2019 when the seven fishermen were thrown overboard by pirates and five of them died, people were held and nothing happened. We want to know what is happening with that matter,” he said.
MP for the Couva North Ravi Ratiram agreed that piracy was too prevalent in the Gulf.
“We need more patrols in these areas...more patrol vessels with swifter responses, so in the event of an emergency, we will have immediate support being given to fishermen. We are also calling for GPS tracking devices to be installed on boats. We want proper lighting for Carli Bay. We are asking for cameras to be installed at the fishing facility,” Ratiram said.
He added that a fund-raising drive will be arranged next month to assist with the installation of cameras at the facility.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea corporate secretary Gary Aboud said the “Gulf of Pirates” is becoming more and more murderous.
“FFOS and the Carli Bay Fishing Association warn that any vessel that approaches within 600 feet is considered a dangerous threat and an act of violence. Fishermen are warned to be on guard and be prepared to flee at any moment. Our fishers are being murdered at sea,” Aboud said in a statement.
He added, “With all the brand new multi-million dollar war ship’s docked at the Coast Guard Base, piracy and murder at sea will continue unabated until we have functional radars.”
A post mortem will be done on Boodoo’s body today to determine how he died, while the search for Garib will continue.